It may be a small country in land mass, but Costa Rica is one of the world’s biggest natural playgrounds. Bordered between Nicaragua and Panama, Costa Rica boasts the world’s largest density of flora and fauna in addition to a varied terrain of mountains, valleys, forests, volcanoes, beaches, lakes and rivers. An overview of the best places to visit in Costa Rica:
Map of Costa Rica
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Year-round sunshine, breathtaking views, laid-back atmosphere and close proximity to national parks all make Tamarindo a popular destination for family vacations and eco-adventures. Located on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, Tamarindo is one of the most developed and accessible beach towns in the region with paved roads and plenty of tourist facilities.
Surrounded by lush green valleys and mountains, Costa Rica’s capital and largest city, San Jose, is a modern city, complete with accommodation, shopping, dining, nightlife, and arts and culture. The city occupies a plateau in the country’s geographical center, making it a great base for exploring other destinations in Costa Rica.
Spanning over the three provinces of Limón, Cartago and San Jose in southern Costa Rica, the Chirripo National Park protects a diversity of habitats and wildlife species. Named after the country’s highest mountain, Cerro Chirripó, the national park features a combination of treeless mountain plateaus, fern groves, marshlands, lush rainforest and glacial lakes.
Located in the North Pacific region of Costa Rica, the Rincon de la Vieja National Park is named after its main attraction, a large steaming volcano. Intriguing, natural features like craters, vapor vents, bubbling mud pits and hot springs as well as an extraordinary amount of plant and wildlife make this national park one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica.
Regarded by many as the crown jewel of Costa Rica’s national park system, the Corcovado National Park is so overflowing in excellent wildlife opportunities, that it is one place that can guarantee plenty of sightings. Situated on the Osa Peninsula in southwestern Costa Rica, Corcovado National Park harbors several major ecosystems that include mangrove swampsand cloud forest.
Despite the fact that it is remotely located in northeastern Costa Rica and accessible only by boat or airplane, the Tortuguero National Park is one of the country’s most visited national parks. One of the most important turtle sanctuaries in the western Caribbean, the park’s main draw is the sea turtles that nest and hatch on the beach.
Less than two hours away from San Jose, Playa Jaco is a hugely popular destination because it offers the best of Costa Rica from gorgeous beaches to wildlife, outdoor activities and sizzling nightlife. Playa Jaco is a lively beach town well known for its laid-back, party atmosphere and excellent surfing waves.
It is Costa Rica’s smallest national park, but Manuel Antonio National Park is also the country’s most visited as it is easily accessible from San Jose. Located on Costa Rica’s mid-Pacific coast nearby the city of Quepos, Manuel Antonio comprises a diverse array of ecosystems including lush rainforests, white sandy beaches and beautiful coral reefs.
Until the past few years, Arenal was the most active volcano in Costa Rica, and it’s frequent, small explosions once provided incredible shows of spewing lava. However, in 2010, Arenal’s cycle entered into a resting phase, putting an indeterminate pause on the eruptions. Nevertheless, the area surrounding Arenal still offers plenty of outstanding sights and exciting activities.
Lush green mountains and tropical jungle, shrouded in clouds, resonate with nature’s concert of exotic bird, animal and insect calls. Located in central Costa Rica, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is one of the country’s most coveted tourist destinations due to its astonishing natural beauty, extraordinary biodiversity and abundance of activities including ziplining and canopy tours.